Prisms Colonial Tavern Roleplay
The year is 1787. Everyone has agreed that the Articles of Confederation are not working well, and James Madison proposes that representatives from all states meet for a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation, and write the United States Constitution. In this interdisciplinary role play, Prisms pretended to meet in a tavern, discussing what should be included in the Constitution. Each student researched a different actual historical character and discussed the issues of the day from the perspective of their character. Characters ranged from George Washington and Benjamin Franklin to Daniel Shays (a poor farmer who led Shays’s Rebellion) to Phillis Wheatley, an African American poet, to Benjamin Banneker, an African American inventor.
To prepare for the big day of the convention, students worked hard in many classes. In Humanities class, students examined primary and secondary documents to analyze issues such as federalism and anti-federalism, slavery, gender roles and balancing power between the north and the south. In Language Arts class, students used databases to research biographies of their character, and used this information to develop their characters. In Science class, students studied the fermentation process and baked sourdough bread, fermented pickles and made their own ginger ale from scratch.
On the day of the Tavern role play, students dressed as their characters, munched on pickles, chewed sourdough bread and sipped their ginger ale while passionately debating the issues they cared about.